Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Leftist moral blindness rolls on at Australian Leftist webzine

Lissa Johnson, the tame psychologist at "New Matilda", ignores most of the facts in her latest essay.  Someone has criticized her writing without getting to the heart of what she gets wrong so she gives a rather supercilious reply.  I excerpt the introduction to it below.  The last paragraph below encapsulates what she refuses to see and it doesn't get better from there on.  She deplores the Islamist attacks in Paris but adds:

"Our grief must be grief for all humanity, and all innocent victims, including victims of our own collective violence. I cited civilians killed and injured by US drone attacks in Yemen as examples"

Get it?  American attacks ON terrorists are as bad as attacks BY terrorists!

To adapt a saying by Mao, terrorists are fish that swim in the sea of the people so they are hard to kill without killing bystanders.  But we have to kill them before they kill others.  And the solution to that dilemma adopted by the American forces has been a very consistent one.  The Obama administration has been most careful in vetoing strikes where there is a likelihood of civilian casualties involved.  On some accounts two out of three target requests from the military are turned down.

The information available to U.S. military planners is of course not always perfect so some civilian casualties do occur.  The only way of totally avoiding civilian casualties would be to do nothing and let the terrorists continue on in their murderous ways. I guess that's what Lissa Johnson wants.

And American caution is not a recent development, the "JAGs" were regularly a great problem for American military men on the ground in Afghanistan.  Has Lissa ever heard of the JAGs?  If so, she promptly forgot it.  JAG stands for the Judge Advocate General's Corps, a branch of the U.S. military that aims to keep the actions of U.S. troops ethical and legal.  And in JAG guidelines, killing civilians is NOT legal. So in Afghanistan they refused many targeting requests on terrorists because it was not totally clear that they were terrorists -- sometimes leading to loss of life among American troops.

So our Lissa sees no difference between the actions of an armed force that goes out of its way to AVOID civilian casualties and an armed group who deliberately aim to INFLICT civilian casualties. Can there be bigger ethical blindness that that?  I can't see it.  She is not so much a disgrace as a pathetic Leftist fraud

I have recently been asked by news website the Tasmanian Times to respond to an article by freelance journalist Shane Humpherys, critiquing my analysis of the psychology behind the tragic Paris attacks.

Given that replying offers the opportunity of a case study in the psychology of systemic violence, and the metaphorical head-kicking that can come from challenging the status quo, I thought it was worthwhile providing a response.

My initial article outlined the shared psychological foundations – and human cost – of all intergroup violence, state-sanctioned or not. One main point was that victims of Western violence are just as human, just as dead or injured, and their families just as bereaved as victims of terrorist attacks.

I argued that if the Paris attacks are to be an attack on all humanity, then our grief must be grief for all humanity, and all innocent victims, including victims of our own collective violence. I cited civilians killed and injured by US drone attacks in Yemen as examples.



Dems’ focus on income inequality is misguided

A new survey from Politico finds what many of us already suspected. Whereas the primary policy issue for Republicans is creating economic growth, Democrats have a rather different set of priorities. Of Democrats surveyed, 81 percent said that income inequality was “the most important economic issue” as far as presidential politics go.

The left has always been driven by a misguided egalitarian streak. The nagging feeling that someone, somewhere, might be better off than someone else is an nettlesome irritant they just can’t shake, despite the fact that almost all plans to correct the alleged problem depend on gross violations of liberty that would be unacceptable to anyone who values freedom.

To see why inequality complaints are overblown, we can turn to philosopher Robert Nozick’s important work on justice and the role government, Anarchy, State, & Utopia. Nozick engages in a thought experiment, supposing an initial allocation of resources across a society that is entirely just. Of course, this means different things to different people, but for now let’s assume a completely egalitarian distribution.

Once this distribution is set, we can allow people to engage in free, voluntary transactions. Some people will choose to give a portion of their money to talented entertainers, athletes, and business owners who provide them with goods and services they value, thereby increasing the incomes of these entrepreneurs and creating inequality. Now, since the initial distribution was just, and since there is no injustice in allowing people to spend their money as they choose, how can anyone claim that income inequality is inherently unjust?

Of course, in the real world, we have to contend with things like theft, fraud, and artificial barriers to success, but taken together these factors explain a relatively small fraction of America’s income inequality. There’s nothing inherently wrong with an uneven distribution of wealth, as long voluntary action is the principal cause.

democrat vs republican

Now to be fair, it’s reasonable to be concerned about those policies that give special advantage to one group while creating roadblocks to success for others. I’ve written extensively about corporate cronyism, such as the Export-Import Bank, occupational licensing requirements, and regulatory burdens on new business models. All of these policies exacerbate income inequality by using government to help the powerful and hinder the weak. There is certainly injustice here, and it is absolutely something that needs to be addressed.

But removing the regulatory barriers to success is not what the left means when they say they want to tackle income inequality. In fact, the Democratic Party openly endorses most of these programs, despite their effect on income disparities.

Focusing on inequality as a major policy variable leads to perverse actions. As Margaret Thatcher observed, many would rather keep everyone from achieving success rather than let some succeed more than others. “He would rather the poor were poorer,” she said of a colleague bemoaning inequality, “provided the rich were less rich. That is the liberal policy.”

Economic growth, on the other hand, is the rising tide that lifts all boats. The poorest 10 percent of Americans today are vastly more wealthy, in absolute terms, than they were a century ago, and this is vastly more important than their relative wealth compared to other people. Absolute wealth determines whether you can feed your family, secure, housing, transportation, and clothing. It determines your entire standard of living. Relative wealth has little impact on your daily life, except perhaps, how jealous you are of your neighbors.

Of course, if you really can’t get the notion that income inequality is bad out of your head, you can take solace in the fact that, if you look at global wealth and don’t restrict your focus to a single country, it has been falling for the last 20 years. Hooray, or something.



More Burnt Offerings on the Altar of Multiculturalism

Diana West wrote the following 11 years ago. It is eerily fitting today.  Nothing has been learnt

Only one faith on Earth may be more messianic than Islam: multiculturalism. Without it -- without its fanatics who believe all civilizations are the same -- the engine that projects Islam into the unprotected heart of Western civilization would stall and fail. It's as simple as that.

To live among the believers -- the multiculturalists -- is to watch the assault, the jihad, take place un-repulsed by our suicidal societies. These societies are not doomed to submit; rather, they are eager to do so in the name of a masochistic brand of tolerance that, short of drastic measures, is surely terminal.

I'm not talking about our soldiers, policemen, rescue workers and, now, even train conductors, who bravely and steadfastly risk their lives for civilization abroad and at home. Instead, I'm thinking about who we are as a society at this somewhat advanced stage of war.

It is a strange, tentative civilization we have become, with leaders who strut their promises of "no surrender" even as they flinch at identifying the foe. Four years past 9/11, we continue to shadow-box "terror," even as we go on about "an ideology of hate." It's a script that smacks of sci-fi fantasy more than realpolitik. But our grim reality is no summer blockbuster, and there's no special-effects-enhanced plot twist that is going to thwart "terror" or "hate" in the London Underground anymore than it did on the roof of the World Trade Center. Or in the Bali nightclub. Or on the first day of school in Beslan. Or in any disco, city bus or shopping mall in Israel.

Body bags, burn masks and prosthetics are no better protections than make-believe. But these are our weapons, according to the powers that be. These, and an array of high-tech scopes and scanners designed to identify retinas and fingerprints, to detect explosives and metals -- ultimately, I presume, as we whisk through the automatic supermarket door.

How strange, though, that even as we devise new ways to see inside ourselves to our most elemental components, we also prevent ourselves from looking full-face at the danger to our way of life posed by Islam.

Notice I didn't say "radical Islam." Or "Islamists." Or "Islamofascists." Or "Islamonazis." I've tried out such terms in the past, but quickly came to find them artificial and confusing, and maybe purposefully so, because in their imprecision I think they allow us all to give a wide berth to a great problem: the gross incompatibility of Islam -- the religious force that shrinks freedom even as it "moderately" enables or "extremistly" advances jihad -- with the West.

Am I right? Who's to say? The very topic of Islamization -- for that is what is at hand, and very soon in Europe -- is verboten.  A leaked British report prepared for Prime Minister Tony Blair last year warned even against "expressions of concern about Islamic fundamentalism" (another one of those amorphous terms) because "many perfectly moderate Muslims follow strict adherence to traditional Islamic teachings and are likely to perceive such expressions as a negative comment on their own approach to their faith."

Much better to watch subterranean tunnels fill with charred body parts in silence. As the London Times' Simon Jenkins wrote, "The sane response to urban terrorism is to regard it as an avoidable accident."

In not discussing the roots of terror in Islam itself, in not learning about them, the multicultural clergy that shepherds our elites prevents us from having to do anything about them. This is key, because any serious action -- stopping immigration from jihad-sponsoring nations, shutting down mosques that preach violence and expelling their imams, just for starters -- means to renounce the multicultural creed. In the West, that's the greatest apostasy.

And while the penalty is not death -- as it is for leaving Islam under Islamic law -- the existential crisis is to be avoided at all costs. Including extinction.

This is the lesson of the atrocities in London [or Paris or Israel or Copenhagen or Ft. Hood or Australia or ...]  It's unlikely that the 21st century will remember that this new Western crossroads for global jihad was once the home of Churchill, Piccadilly and Sherlock Holmes.

Then again, who will notice? The BBC has retroactively purged its online bombing coverage of the word "terrorist"; the spokesman for the London police commissioner has declared that "Islam and terrorism simply don't go together"; and within sight of a forensics team sifting through rubble, an Anglican priest urged his flock, as The Guardian reported, to "rejoice in the capital's rich diversity of cultures, traditions, ethnic groups and faiths."

Just don't, he said, "name them as Muslims." Their faith renewed, Londoners soldier on.



4 simple sentences

Here are the 10,535 pages of Obama Care condensed to 4 simple sentences..  As crazy as it sounds, every last word is absolutely TRUE!

1. In order to insure the uninsured, we first have to un-insure the insured.

2. Next, we require the newly un-insured to be re-insured.

3. To re-insure the newly un-insured, they are required to pay extra charges to be re-insured.

4. The extra charges are required so that the original insured, who became un-insured, and then became re-insured, can pay enough extra so that the original un-insured can be insured, so it will be ‘free-of-charge’ to them.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is called "redistribution of wealth", AKA Socialism

There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on events from a British perspective.


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Monday, November 30, 2015

More on what lies behind the Left/Right divide

Among psychologists, the most interesting answer to the above question is that given by John Hibbing.  He might be called the "rockstar" of the debate. He attracts attention because he goes down to the physiological and brain-science level for his evidence and conclusions.  He says that what you believe is a product of what you are.  He does not stress it but "what you are" is genetically determined.  So he is looking for inherited physiological differences between Leftists and conservatives.

And he has made some progress.  He has put people through a number of experimental tasks and found that the reactions he observes to the tasks  do indeed differ as between the two ideological groups.  He describes his findings as showing that "disgust sensitivity" is the key variable.  Conservatives are more easily disgusted.  Most generally, they have a "negativity bias", according to Hibbing.  And last year he put up a big paper summarizing the evidence for his view.  It is "Differences in negativity bias underlie variations in  political ideology"

I have long argued that Left/Right differences are largely inborn so my critique of Hibbing is not to contest his findings but to question the "spin" he puts on them.  You can find a pretty good summary of his experiments here and I think it is easy to see that what Hibbing calls "negativity bias" could just as well be described as caution -- and caution has long been said to be the essence of conservatism.  So Hibbing has confirmed some old wisdom rather than telling us anything new.

Hibbing's big article was published in an open review journal so critiques of it keep multiplying.  One such  critique that I have noted recently was "Not so simple: The multidimensional nature and diverse origins of political ideology" by Stanley Feldman and Leonie Huddy.  They make two points that I think are pretty right:

They say that "negativity bias" is characteristic of neurotics and that all the studies show that conservatives are not particularly neurotic.  I observed that in my research too.  So that is a bit of a stake in the heart for Hibbing.  His "spin" on his results has undone him.  If he had simply described conservatives as cautious, that criticism could not so easily be levelled at him.

Their second point is that there is no single Left-Right dimension.  Economic conservatism and social conservatism are quite different. So Feldman & Huddy conclude that Hibbing's work is pretty useless because he has mixed up two different things.  And it is indeed true that those two types of attitudes are very distinct factorially.  I noted that in one of my papers long ago.

So they are right but I am prepared to defend Hibbing on that one.  Although there are  two  distinctly different types of conservative attitude,  they are not totally different.  As I found, they do correlate, albeit weakly.  And that is why the "big tent" of the GOP succeeds.  The two types of conservative do find some things in common, a respect for the individual, mainly.

And as we see in "Political Attitudes Vary with Physiological Traits", Hibbing uses the Wilson scale in his research, which is primarily a measure of social conservatism. And I have shown elsewhere that social conservatism is the big one for separating people.  Economic conservatism is arguably more important to our future but it doesn't get the blood boiling like social issues do: Abortion, homosexuality, religion, tradition etc.

So Hibbing may not be measuring overall conservatism but he is measuring social conservatism and that is the most central sort of conservatism.  So I would summarize his findings as showing that social conservatives are instinctively more cautious than others.  And I see no problem with that.

Hibbing uses "Negativity" rather than "caution" to describe conservatives because he wants to rubbish conservatives (though he says he does not).  "Negative" sounds a lot sadder than "cautious".  But in so doing he lands himself in trouble.  I have noted the Feldman & Huddy comment on that but there is in fact a bigger vat of boiling oil he falls into:

As is noted here, who are the "negative" people when it comes to global warming?  Warmists are almost entirely Leftists but it is they who are vastly negative about the climate and our future.  They predict imminent catastrophe -- while conservatives are mostly just amused by the scare. Conservatives say in  summary that: "global warming is not a crisis, the likely benefits of man-made global warming exceed the likely costs, and mankind is not the scourge on Earth that liberals make us out to be"

And again, referring to conservatives simply as cautious would not enable that criticism.  Warmists do say that they are the cautious ones but to swallow the arrant nonsense that is global warming would have to be a height of incautiousness.  Conservatives just look at the evidence and see that there is no need for caution in the matter.  Here's a graph of the amount of global warming we have had in the last 18 years  -- none:

So two cheers for Hibbing.  He has drawn attention to the biological basis of ideology but he should stop stretching the implications of his findings in a Leftist direction.  He just makes a fool of himself with that stretch.  He was pretty reasonable -- even humble -- in a 2012 paper.  He should try more of that.


The liberal problem with reality again


Save us!


Hillary Clinton’s million little lies

TO HEAR Hillary Clinton tell it, she was named for Sir Edmund Hillary, the conqueror of Mount Everest — even though she was already six-years-old when he made his famous ascent.

On a visit to war-torn Bosnia in 1996, she claimed she and her entourage landed under sniper fire and had to run “with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base” — although videos of her arrival show her waltzing serenely across the tarmac, waving to the crowd.

She blamed the 2012 attack on American diplomatic and intelligence-gathering installations in Benghazi on “a disgusting video” when she knew almost from the first moment that it was a jihadist assault that took the lives of four Americans, including the ambassador to Libya.

No wonder the late William Safire, writing in The New York Times in 1996, at the height of the Whitewater investigation, called her a “congenital liar”.

Said Safire: “She is in the longtime habit of lying; and she has never been called to account for lying herself or in suborning lying in her aides and friends”.

Baron Munchausen has nothing on Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Now comes the recycling this month of another Clinton tall tale: That shortly before her 1975 marriage to Bill Clinton, she decided in a fit of patriotic fervour and dedication to “public service” to stroll into a recruiter’s office in Arkansas and join the Marine Corps.

It’s an anecdote she trots out to charm military audiences, whether it’s a group on Capitol Hill in 1994, or, most recently, to veterans in Derry, New Hampshire.

“He looks at me and goes, ‘Um, how old are you,’ ” Clinton recalled at the event on November 10. “I said, ‘Well, I’m 26. I will be 27.’ And he goes, ‘Well, that is kind of old for us.’ And then he says to me, and this is what gets me, ‘Maybe the dogs will take you,’ meaning the Army,” she added.

Yeah, right. Never mind that the term is “dogface,” used to refer to the Army infantry. And never mind as well that, given the tenor of the times, the Marines or any other service would have taken young Ms. Rodham in a heartbeat, especially given their need for lawyers.

Like so many carefully parsed Clintonian statements, Hillary’s Leatherneck fantasy is either unverifiable or dependent upon how it’s phrased.

When confronted with the obvious discrepancy in her “Edmund Hillary” story, she characteristically shifted the blame to her mother, Dorothy, saying the fable was something her mother told her.

But let’s assume for a moment that, unlike Clinton’s other whoppers, this story is actually, in some sense, true.

What are the odds that, in the immediate aftermath of Vietnam, the anti-war Wellesley graduate, who’d written her college senior thesis on “community organiser” Saul Alinsky, had a snazzy Yale Law degree, and who was already envisioning a career in state and national politics alongside Bill (then a candidate for Arkansas lawyer general), would do such a thing — and actually mean it?

I’m betting zero.

A far more likely explanation is that Hillary entered the Marine recruiting office — if she did — not out of any desire to “serve her country”, but as an agent provocateur, determined to show that the Marines were a bunch of bigoted sexist, ageist pigs in order to fuel her sense of outrage.

This explanation is given credence by one of Hillary’s Fayetteville, Arkansas, friends at the time, Ann Henry, who said that Hillary was interested in probing the way the military treated women candidates.

“I can remember discussing it, but I cannot give you the details of when and what was said,” Henry told a reporter.

“Hillary would go and do things just to test it out, and I can totally see her doing that just to see what the reaction was.”

Given the mood of the time, and the vituperative nastiness of the left regarding all things military, it would have been just like the self-aggrandising Hillary Rodham to try and manufacture a controversy where there was none, to make herself look good.

And now she allegedly recasts the story as a legitimate desire to join the military, to show her dedication to public service. Is the story true? And if it is true, were her motives as described?

What difference does it make!

The late Christopher Hitchens titled his memoir of the Whitewater/Monica Lewinsky circus No One Left to Lie To, but even someone as perceptive as Hitch couldn’t foresee that the Clintons, like cockroaches and the Kardashians, would always be with us, forever playing the same shell game on the American people and laughing as we fall for it.

That would be the same Clintons (combined current net worth: $140 million) who were “dead broke” when they left the White House.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Another Leftist attempt to deny the obvious

They do a lot of that.  They need to

That liberals are the ones who find society all wrong and want to change it is definitional of liberalism.  So that suggests that liberals are the unhappy people.  Would you want to change the world about you if you were happy with it?  And that little bit of logic gets repeatedly confirmed by the survey data.  Republican voters (for instance) always report greater levels of happiness than do Democrat voters

But that has begun to get under the skin of some Leftist psychologists.  In their wisdom they think conservatives are the misfits and liberals are the regular guys.  So how can misfits be happier?  There are several possible answers to that and some Leftist pychologists have tested some of the answers.  Their preferred hypothesis is that conservatives are not telling the truth about how happy they are.  And they have research evidence to prove it.  But do they?

There is a much reprinted article by Tom Jacobs which summarizes some of that research.  It's longish so I am not going to reproduce it but I do want to look at the detail behind it.  Have they in fact proved anything?  We will see.

I will take the "evidence" for Tom's claims one by one.

The first study quoted by Tom was by Cara MacInnis and Michael Busseri of Brock University.  It actually concludes that "Extreme Right Wingers" were happier than others.  So how it supports Tom's  claims is puzzling.  Whether it does or not, however, hardly matters.  It was based on two totally invalid questionnaires.  The RWA scale gets roughly the same level of endorsement among voters of the Left and Right. Right-wing Leftists?  If that were not odd enough, the high scorers in Russia tend to be Communists.  Right wing Communists??  So scores on that set of questions tell you nothing certain that I can think of. It is just a bit of academic nonsense.

They also used another invalid scale called the SDO, but I have said enough about that piece of junk elsewhere. In short, the research was so ill-conceived that it proved nothing

The second study by Sean P. Wojcik et al. seems to be the main one for Tom.

Their Study 1:  Even Wojcik et al agree that the results of that study are ambiguous but that is the least of their problems.  The main problem is the tiny size of the effects observed.  A correlation of .1 explains .01% percent of the common variance between the two variables.  Combine that with the fact that the sample was of visitors to an internet site and you have a big problem indeed.  You have to have really strong correlations among such an unrepresentative sample for it to be of interest.  So again, the study proved nothing. The tiny correlation was statistically significant but that just reflects the large sample size -- N = 1433.

Their Study II was of greater interest. They did a content analysis of speeches by Congresscritters.  But again they found little.  I quote:

"Greater conservatism was associated with a small but significant decrease in positive affect word use (b = –0.16, P <0.001). Conservatism was not significantly associated with the use of negative affect words, joviality-related words, or sadness-related words".

So of the 4 relationships they examined only one was significant and it was again very low.  But again, that may not be the big problem of the study.  Content analysis can very easily be biased and strong precautions have to be taken against that. Wojcik et al list no such precautions.  So again no firm conclusions can be drawn from the work.

But they include another highly inferential piece of research in their Study II.  They analysed the smiles of Congresscritters!  Again, however, the correlations were tiny.  I quote:

"We observed only marginally significant differences in the intensity of smiling behavior in the muscles lifting the corners of the mouth (AU12: b= –0.10, P=0.096), but conservatism predicted significantly less intense facial action in the muscles around the eyes that indicate genuine happiness"

So again, their findings were negligible.  And, in the circumstances, we have to ask whether inferences drawn from eye muscle movement tell us much anyway. Eye muscle movements might tell us something in a gross sort of way but where the differences are very slight, do they tell us anything at all? Thinking in terms of Venn diagrams, the tiny overlap indicated by a .10 correlation could be entirely outside the overlap between eye-movements and happiness -- and thus tell you nothing about happiness.

And I liked this bit of modesty about their results:

"Of course, elected political leaders are not representative of liberal and conservative individuals more generally, and it is unclear how well speech and facial expressions occurring within the confines of Capitol Hill reflect similar happiness-related  behaviors  in  less  overtly  political contexts"


Their Study III also raises questions. I quote:

"We analyzed the statuses of individuals who subscribed to (“followed”) the official Twitter pages of either the Democratic or Republican Party, excluding those following both, under the assumption that users who followed one party exclusively were likely to share that party’s political views"

I suppose I can pass that as a reasonable assumption but it again raises sampling problems.  I don't think we have yet got to the point where the man in the street uses Twitter -- so the representativeness of the sample would appear to be deficient, thus limiting or even vitiating generalizations from it.

But leave that aside.  They  found:

"Republican Party subscribers’ updates were significantly less likely to contain positive emotion words, joviality words, and happy emoticons, and significantly more likely to contain negative emotion words"

This time they reported their statistics in terms of odds ratios rather than correlations.  But again the findings were utterly trivial. An odds-ratio has to be of 2.0 or above to be taken seriously and none of theirs were. Most were in fact below .1. In other words, their findings basically indicated "No effect".

Is my view of what is required of odds ratios just my opinion?  Not at all.  The Federal Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence, Second Edition says (p. 384): "the threshold for concluding that an agent was more likely than not the cause of an individual's disease is a relative risk greater than 2.0."  Odds ratios and relative risk are not exactly the same but with weak effects such as we have here they are much the same.

Their Study IV was another study of photographs. They found that:

"smiles were marginally more intense among employees at ideologically liberal organizations"

And "marginally" was the word again.

And that's it!  There's your proof that liberals really are happier. Generalizations based on extremely weak effects and highly indirect measures of happiness.

And none of the studies examined general population samples. There was no sampling at all, in fact. There was no attempt at representative sampling of conservatives or liberals at any point.  And without representative sampling of a group, you cannot make generalizations about that group.  So the study proves nothing.  Its reliance on crinkles in the corner of people's eyes is rather hilarious in fact.  You couldn't make it up

Tom Jacobs does quote one extra study but gives no name for it, no authors for it nor any link or journal citation for it.  My Google searches for it were in vain.  Did he just make it up?  Who knows? We have seen that Liberals do get desperate for confirmation of their beliefs.


Saturday, November 28, 2015


Back from hospital, where I was very well and promptly treated

Not admitted at my request

CAT scan confirmed a diagnosis of diverticulitis -- something I have had before

Now taking antibiotics and painkillers for it

Slight improvement but still in considerable pain

May post something tomorrow but will be less than usual


Possible hiatus

I am about to go into hospital with severe abdominal pain

So my blogging may be interrupted

I do however have some stuff scheduled to go up on A WESTERN HEART over the next few days so that will continue


Friday, November 27, 2015


I think Thanksgiving is becoming an occasion mainly for conservatives.  Being grateful for our blessings is normal for conservatives (See here and here and here and here) whereas Leftists focus on problems.  And extreme Leftists of course say that the occasion celebrates a takeover of the territory of others by invaders and is therefore nothing to be celebrated.

Nonetheless, a lot of liberals do sit down with others to share a Thanksgiving meal. And where the gathering is politically mixed there can be tensions. The Boston Globe, writing from the heartland of self-righteousness, however, has a new twist on such dinner tensions.  They say:

"For years, the major Thanksgiving stressors have been set: politics and religion. But as a growing number of Americans go vegan, vegetarian, organic, local, grass-fed, free-range, wheat-free, or Paleo, a third flash point has been added — the divide between those who favor comfortable Thanksgiving fare and, well, food snobs."

And they go on to give examples of the real tensions that can cause.  So once again conservatives are blessed.  They may often have their own food beliefs but their appreciation of tradition would usually come to the fore -- so they would be very unlikely to make an issue of food disciplines on such a happy day.


Sorry, Bernie Sanders, FDR's New Deal Actually Prolonged the Great Depression

We are indoctrinated to believe that Roosevelt's New Deal saved the United States from the throes of the Great Depression. But, in 2004, two UCLA economists, Harold Cole and Lee Ohanian, destroyed that narrative. Cole and Ohanian explained that Roosevelt extreme intervention in the economy actually prolonged the depression by seven years.

"Why the Great Depression lasted so long has always been a great mystery, and because we never really knew the reason, we have always worried whether we would have another 10- to 15-year economic slump," Ohanian said in a 2004 release. "We found that a relapse isn't likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies."

"[Roosevelt] came up with a recovery package that would be unimaginable today, allowing businesses in every industry to collude without the threat of antitrust prosecution and workers to demand salaries about 25 percent above where they ought to have been, given market forces," Cole added. "The economy was poised for a beautiful recovery, but that recovery was stalled by these misguided policies."

Thomas Sowell has explained that the economy was on the path to recovery after the stock market crash of 1929. "[The unemployment rate] hit 9 percent in December — but then began a generally downward trend, subsiding to 6.3 percent in June 1930. Economic intervention by the Hoover administration interrupted the recovery and led to a deepening of the depression. Sowell views the protectionist Smoot-Hawley tariff, which was signed into law by President Herbert Hoover in 1930 against the advice of hundreds of economists, as the beginning of the worst of the downturn, though not the cause, and, similar to Cole and Ohanian, blames the extreme intervention of the Roosevelt administration for its severity.

The recovery from the Great Depression was tepid, to say the least. Unemployment jumped from 3.2 percent in 1929, the year the downturn began, to 24.9 percent in 1933, when it officially ended. There was a short period of robust economic growth from 1934 to 1936, but it did not last. The economy experienced another downturn in 1937, though not as severe as the Great Depression. Nevertheless, unemployment began rising once again, from 14.3 percent in 1937 to 19 percent the following year.

The Roosevelt administration, through the New Deal, effectively cartelized parts of the economy. "Just a few decades previously the federal government had passed anti-monopoly 'trust busting' laws like the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in order to combat anti-competitive collusion," writes Trevor Burrus. "During the New Deal, however, the government entirely changed course. What was once an unmitigated evil was seen as a necessary step on the road to recovery."

Ohanian cites the National Industrial Recovery Act and the National Labor Relations Act as a couple notable interventions in the economy that were hurdles to a quick recovery. "NIRA covered over 500 industries, ranging from autos and steel, to ladies hosiery and poultry production. Each industry created a code of “fair competition,” which spelled out what producers could and could not do, and which were designed to eliminate 'excessive competition' that FDR believed to be the source of the Depression," Ohanian explains. "These codes distorted the economy by artificially raising wages and prices, restricting output, and reducing productive capacity by placing quotas on industry investment in new plants and equipment." He notes that the policies at the heart of the NIRA continued even after the Supreme Court, in Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States (1935), struck it down.

The National Labor Relations Act was a boon to labor unions to the detriment of the broader economy. "The downturn of 1937-38 was preceded by large wage hikes that pushed wages well above their NIRA levels, following the Supreme Court’s 1937 decision that upheld the constitutionality of the National Labor Relations Act. These wage hikes led to further job loss, particularly in manufacturing," Ohanian notes. "The 'recession in a depression' thus was not the result of a reversal of New Deal policies, as argued by some, but rather a deepening of New Deal polices that raised wages even further above their competitive levels, and which further prevented the normal forces of supply and demand from restoring full employment."

Roosevelt's approach to agriculture was also particularly mindboggling. Through the Agriculture Adjustment Act, passed in 1933, the federal government paid farmers not to produce to raise crop prices. Still reeling from the effects of the depression, people could not afford food, and the federal government was paying farmers not to work, as well as destroying crops and slaughtering cattle and pigs to boost the price of meat. "While millions of Americans were going hungry, the government plowed under 10 million acres of crops, slaughtered 6 million pigs, and left fruit to rot. Production of milk, fruits, and other products was cartelized to boost prices under 'marketing orders' begun in 1937," Chris Edwards explained in a 2005 analysis of the depression. "These policies reduced employment and burdened families with higher prices."

According to the Congressional Research Service, between 1930 and 1940, there was a net increase of 382,000 workers and employment as a percentage of the population actually declined from 50.5 percent to 44.8 percent. The unemployment rate did not drop to pre-depression levels until after the United States entered World War II. Of course, the number of enlisted men, the vast majority of whom were conscripts, grew substantiallly, from 458,365 in 1940 to 12.2 million in 1945. This was a sizable chunk of the available labor force of the time, so the natural result was a drop in unemployment.



How the Left Thinks about the War on Terror

Here are some bad ideas implicit in most leftwing commentary on this topic.

1. If there are no boots on the ground, you’re not really at war.

Barack Obama said it over and over again – to our troops, to the American people, to the news media, to the world: “There will be no boots on the ground.” That was before he ordered boots on the ground in Iraq.

But why is that distinction so important? The implicit idea is that when we are dropping bombs, our planes are so high up the enemy can’t shoot them down. So no American ever gets shot or captured. We can kill them, but they can’t kill us. Voila. We can actually fight the bad guys without anyone on our side getting hurt.

Earth to Obama: When you are dropping bombs on people, you are at war. And the enemy will find ways to fight back. Look at what just happened in Paris.

2. If you don’t say what you are fighting against, you’re not really at war.

In the Democratic presidential debate last Saturday, Hillary Clinton was given ample opportunity to say we are fighting “radical Islam.” She demurred. President Obama never uses those words either.

But if we are not fighting “radical Islam,” what are we fighting? If you can’t identify what you are against, how do our soldiers know who to shoot at? How do we know whether we are winning or losing?

3. Killing is better than torture.

Think about the terrible ordeal Sen. John McCain went through as a prisoner of war. Ditto for Rep. Sam Johnson and other Americans who were tortured by their Vietnamese captors. Awful as all that was, does anyone think the world would be better off if McCain, Johnson and the others were killed rather than tortured?

Well, that is how Barack Obama thinks. He criticized George Bush for allowing three captives to be water boarded. He called it “torture” and apologized to the world. But Obama has no problem at all with killing people. As I previously reported, that is what our drones are doing day in and day out and the number of drone kills has spiked radically during the Obama years. In the president’s first five years in office, the C.I.A. made 330 drone strikes in Pakistan alone (a country we are not even at war with!), compared with 51 total drone strikes in four years of George W. Bush’s presidency.

Remember: Our drones are killing people who are not wearing uniforms. They are not shooting back at us. They are not in any traditional sense “combatants.” I’m sure that a lot of the people the Obama administration has killed deserved to die. But we don’t always know who we are killing. And we admit that bystanders, including children, are victims as well.

Is that really more humane than water boarding?

4. Killing is better than capture.

Have you noticed that we are not capturing any bad guys these days? One reason why the population at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba keeps shrinking is that we don’t have any new captives to put there. The reason: the Obama administration doesn’t want prisoners.

This is terrible policy. Captives can be questioned. They can give up valuable information. Dead men can tell us nothing.

So why are we killing instead of capturing? Because of the next bad idea.

5. Captives have civil rights; people we kill do not.

Take Osama bin Laden. From what I can tell, the movie Zero Dark Thirtygot the facts pretty much right. Seal Team Six had no intention of bringing him back alive. They brought a body bag with them and they intended to fill it.

Bin Laden was not armed when they found him. He was not asked to surrender. He was not read his Miranda rights. There was no attempt whatsoever to take him prisoner. Our guys just went in and shot him. And then, with his body prone upon the floor, they shot him a couple of more times just to make sure he was dead.

So what about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed? He probably has more American blood on his hands than bin Laden, considering that he was closer to the scene of the crimes. For more than a decade lawyers have been arguing over what rights he does or doesn’t have. But why bother? Why don’t we just send some special ops guys down to Guantanamo and shoot him?

There seems to be no real answer. And things don’t get any clearer if you read the editorials in The New York Times. In fact, the very same editorial that lauded the assassination of bin Laden and quoted President Obama as saying “justice has been done” went on to complain about the detention of prisoners at Guantánamo.

Got that? Assassination: good. Detention: bad. What is it you don’t understand?

6. The president has the right to order people killed.

The act of ordering someone killed from the White House – someone not wearing a uniform and not in formal combat -- has gone on for some time. But it has really escalated under Barack Obama.

Last month, The New York Times published a lengthy article describing all of the legal opinions the president got before he ordered the bin Laden kill. I read the article several times and nowhere in it could I find any lawyer explicitly saying the president has the right to kill people. But nor did the article overtly admit that this is what really happened.

I don’t doubt for one moment that bin Laden deserved to die. Nor do I doubt the patriotism of the Special Forces. They risk their lives for you and me. They serve their country admirably.

But shouldn’t we acknowledge who the Special Forces are and what their role is? They are licensed to kill. That’s what they do. When they shoot, they don’t shoot to wound. They rarely take prisoners. As a general rule, they don’t leave any witnesses.

7. Killing people with robots isn’t really killing.

After the CIA killed an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen, a federal court ordered the Obama administration to release an internal memo justifying the act. As reported in The New York Times:

The main theory that the government says allows it to kill American citizens, if they pose a threat, is the “public authorities justification,” a legal concept that permits governments to take actions in emergency situations that would otherwise break the law. It’s why fire trucks can break the speed limit and police officers can fire at a threatening gunman.

Got that? If fire trucks can break the speed limit, why can’t the CIA kill a few Americans with drones? What’s more depressing than the memo is the Gray Lady’s tepid response to it:

Blithely accepting such assurances at face value is why these kinds of killings are so troubling, and why we have repeatedly urged that an outside party — such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — provide an independent review when a citizen is targeted…. This memo should never have taken so long to be released, and more documents must be made public. The public is still in the dark on too many vital questions.

Before the government can zap you with a drone, the Times wants a court review. You won’t be present at the hearing, however.

8. Prisoners of war are not really prisoners of war if we’re really not at war.

From the beginning of his presidency Barack Obama has promised civil libertarians on the left that he would close the Guantanamo prison. So far Congress has blocked him and in the struggle over what to do next the national news’s media has completely forgotten why Guantanamo was an issue in the first place.

The real issue is not where the prisoners are located. The issue is indefinite detention.

When German solders surrendered to the allies at the close of World War II or when they were captured on the battle field, no one thought they had any rights – other than the right not to be treated cruelly. And that has been true in every war. Combatants do not have the same rights ordinary criminals do. As for detention, victorious armies have always exercised the option to detain enemy soldiers as long as they are perceived as a threat.

Clearly the terrorists think they are in a war with us. They have said it over and over again. Yet the left in this country continues to insist that they be treated under the criminal law, with all the constitutional rights and privileges ordinary criminals enjoy.

The president of France says we are in a war. Why can’t the president of the United States acknowledge the same thing?



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Leftists believe in nothing except their own power

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is a hyperfeminist, a lesbian activist. She hates patriarchies, especially old white men who tell women what to do.

But see a photo that she herself published, wearing a hijab [in white scarf] and sitting in the women's only section of an Ottawa mosque, like a good little subservient, submissive woman, obedient to sharia law!

Of course, if sharia law were really in effect, she’d be thrown off the top of an apartment block, or hanged from a crane, which is the usual death sentence for homosexuality under radical Islam.

This isn’t just a case of, anything for a vote. It’s an insight into her mind. She despises our western, Judeo-Christian culture. But she’s an obedient little girl when it comes to the most reactionary patriarchy in the world — radical Islam.



The America-Basher in Chief Rolls On

By David Limbaugh

How could America have twice elected a president who not only can't stand America but also won't perform his constitutional duty of defending it?

Even some former administration officials and rank-and-file Democrats are finally recognizing that there is something strange about a commander in chief who declines to listen to his advisers on terrorism, won't read their daily briefings and is uninterested in their threat assessments.

It's sad that so many refused to take Obama seriously when he promised to fundamentally transform America. It's inexcusable that the media and so many naive voters believed that his radical past and his ongoing affiliation with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's racist church were irrelevant. It's disgraceful that a man who pledged to unite America on race, gender and income groups has intentionally polarized us to a point not seen since the 1960s. It's contemptible that he has used his office to alienate citizens from law enforcement officials throughout the nation. It's abominable that he is systematically dismantling our defense capabilities and approaching foreign policy as if his actions and inactions had no more consequences than a chalkboard exercise by a clique of airheaded leftist professors in their faculty lounge.

Islamist terrorists are waging a global war against America and our allies, and the president won't even identify our enemy. He sees Christians, Republicans and conservatives as the real threat to America — the distorted version of America, that is, that he envisions. He continues to trash America on foreign soil at every opportunity.

I (and others) have long been saying that Obama is obsessed with apologizing for America. Many of us documented his world apology tour, whereby he deeply criticized this nation at every stop of his globe-trotting junket. Yet his shameless defenders say he was just building bridges and alliances. Talk about a bridge to nowhere.

I wonder whether these intellectually dishonest defenders will still deny that Obama is apologizing for America after hearing his words from Malaysia last week. Actually, I don't wonder. They'll love it. They are fellow America haters and have never been more ecstatic about a president — one who is finally using the immense power of the presidential office to tear this nation apart.

If you think my words are harsh, it's only because you are not talking to people all over this nation who are feeling and thinking exactly as I am. They are legion. They are fed up. They are not having any more of it.

At a town hall meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Friday, Obama denigrated the United States for its hypocrisy, its "growing inequality" and the inadequacies of our political system. A Martian traveler might well conclude that this man hasn't occupied the Oval Office for the past seven years. Why doesn't Obama just go on TV and confess that his entire presidency has been a failure — by his own regrettable benchmarks?

Concerning America's hypocrisy, he told his rapt audience that we have to have some humility and not tell other nations what to do because we don't have such a great track record ourselves. We've meddled in other nations' internal affairs, and we have problems in our own country. Here again, Obama forgets that he has been president and that he has improperly intermeddled with other nations, especially our reliable ally Israel. And problems in our own country? I know this is news to the utopian left, but every nation is always going to have problems.

He particularly lamented our "growing inequality" and even blames it for our divisive politics and cynicism — two conditions to which he has been the greatest contributor for years. What's that you said about hypocrisy, Mr. Obama?

But he gets the biggest prize for audaciously complaining about our political system, claiming that money is overwhelming ideas. Politicians are listening more to their wealthy contributors than to "ordinary people."

Well, that may be true as far as it goes. We conservatives are tired of the ruling class and the establishment elite and their incestuous lobbyists, but we don't believe that the left's proposals of suppressing speech are the solution. And if anyone's hands are dirty on this score, Obama's are.

More importantly, Obama has no credibility in complaining about politicians who fail to listen to the American people — whether or not because of money. No one listens less to the people than he does. No one is more self-assured with less justification than he is. The American people are aghast at his arrogant refusal to defend America and listen to his advisers, his insistence on bringing terrorist-imbedded refugees and immigrants into this nation, his bizarre assertion that global warming is a greater threat to this nation than Islamic terrorism, his endless lies on Obamacare, his constant slandering of this country, and on and on.

It will be a sheer joy when we have a new president, God willing, who genuinely loves this nation and sees it as a force for good throughout the world and begins to return it to that path. No, this nation is not over, but it needs to turn back to its founding principles and believe in itself again.



A new bureaucratic nightmare

As we observed in “Financial Crisis and Leviathan,” in its first 14 months the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a new federal agency, did little besides expanding an already bloated and wasteful government. The CFPB duplicates the work of existing regulators and worsens a crisis government played a major role in causing through programs such as the Carter-Era Community Reinvestment Act. Unfortunately, the damage does not stop there.

As the New York Times observes, the CFPB has been taking aim at the arbitration process, a longstanding way to resolve disputes outside of the court system. A new rule by the CFPB “which would prevent financial services companies from including class-action bans in consumer contracts, could in effect kill arbitration altogether.” Trouble is, as the Times notes, the CFPB is “empowered to issue rules without legislative approval, making them more difficult to defeat. Furthermore, unlike the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is overseen by a bipartisan commission, the consumer agency has a single head, appointed by the president.”

As Mother Jones explains, a recent television commercial, aired during a presidential debate, “paints the CFPB as a Kremlin-like bureaucratic nightmare,” with prime mover Elizabeth Warren “as the Stalinesque figure” on a red banner alongside CFPB boss Richard Cordray. Given the top-down autocratic structure of the CFPB, and the lack of legislative oversight, the Soviet imagery is not much of a stretch.



Will the "mob" do the job that Obama won't?

Good if they "rub out" Jihadis before they strike

It's a little known fact, but back in World War II, the government made a pact with la cosa nostra to protect America's ports from the Nazis. After suspected Nazi sabotage at our ports, the Roosevelt administration reached out to Jewish mobster Meyer Lansky and Charles "Lucky" Luciano in what came to be known as "Operation Underworld." The collaboration prevented another such incident from happening again during the War. Now, it seems like the mob is offering its protection once again:

The son of a New York mob boss has given Islamic State a stark warning, saying if they are planning any attacks in New York, they will have to contend with the Sicilian mafia. The notorious crime syndicate say they want to do their bit to protect locals.

Giovanni Gambino, the son of a key figure in the Gambino mob organization, says the mafia is in a much better position than security bodies, such as the FBI or Homeland Security, to give New Yorkers the protection they need.

“They often act too late, or fail to see a complete picture of what's happening due to a lack of ‘human intelligence,’” he said in an interview with NBC News, as cited by Reuters, adding that the mafia’s knowledge of individual movements and interaction with locals gives it the upper hand, even compared to the latest surveillance technologies.

Gambino, who is trying to carve out a career as a Hollywood screenwriter, says that, following the horrendous terror attacks in Paris on November 13, protection is more important than ever.

"The world is dangerous today, but people living in New York neighborhoods with Sicilian connections should feel safe," he said. "We make sure our friends and families are protected from extremists and terrorists, especially the brutal, psychopathic organization that calls itself the Islamic State,”
Organizations like the mafia first rose to prominence in the United States in large part because new citizens had to find ways to protect themselves when government couldn't. If the Obama Administration isn't up for the job, it's nice to see that someone else is.



Shiller’s Irrational Faith in Government Regulation

In a recent New York Times piece, economist Robert Shiller built an argument that was a non sequitur resting on two false premises. Specifically, Shiller argued:

(Premise 1:) Economics courses teach students that market outcomes are “Pareto optimal.”

(Premise 2:) In reality, market forces lead to systematic deception and manipulation of the public.

(Conclusion:) Therefore, we shouldn’t have blind reliance on unregulated markets, but instead we need sensible government oversight such as the kind that the FDA provides to the medical arena.

To repeat, Shiller’s conclusion doesn’t follow from his premises, but beyond that, his premises are false. So it’s a rather dubious argument, all around.

In the first place, outside of a few schools with faculty trained in Austrian economics, I think Shiller is quite mistaken when he argues, “Perhaps the most widely admired of all the economic theories taught in our universities is the notion that an unregulated competitive economy is optimal for everyone.” What percentage of economics professors teaching in the U.S. would endorse such a claim? I’m guessing it’s about 5 percent.

Second, it is not true that market forces leave the public helpless in the face of deception. For example, Shiller says that grocery stores tried “no candy” checkout lanes decades ago but that “these efforts have largely failed.” Thus, Shiller thinks this is a good example of how the profit motive can lead companies to take measures (such as putting candy in checkout lines) that will not make their customers happy, in a certain sense.

Yet I can remember seeing “no candy” lanes in the not too-distant past, and so the efforts must not have failed that much. In any event, with the rise of self-checkout lanes, this is now a moot point. It’s quite easy for parents who are so inclined to avoid pushing their young whiny children past candy bars in even conventional grocery stores. Furthermore, the rise of health food stores has also given more options to parents who want to shop in such an environment. It wasn’t the aim of the people opening such stores to specifically solve the “we know parents will hate us for it but we want to make a buck” problem that Shiller brings up, but they did solve it nonetheless.

Finally and most important, it doesn’t really matter how much we think markets encourage honesty vs. duplicity in some absolute sense. All that matters is whether voluntary processes are more honest than coercive mechanisms imposed from Washington.

Yes, it is true that major companies that fund scientific research have an interest, but by the same token wouldn’t we expect government-funded research to yield outcomes that the political class desires?

And yes, it is true that mass-market commercial campaigns appeal to the baser motives and emotionally manipulate the public. But how does Shiller think political campaigns work, when the public periodically selects the government officials who will then (supposedly) tweak and improve the dishonest, manipulative marketplace?



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Progressives are deliberately attempting to remake America by importing whole populations that suit them better

And too bad if that harms the existing population in any way

In just over a week, the world endured three major Islamic terrorist attacks in Beirut, Paris and Mali. Be it the Islamic State or an al-Qaida offshoot, the current reality reveals that Barack Obama’s 2012 oft-stated campaign assertion that jihadis were “on the run” was as fraudulent as the commander in chief himself. In fact, there is only one thing more fraudulent than Obama, his equally feckless administration and the Democrat Party’s leading presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. That would be the progressive ideology that animates all of them. And it’s about time every GOP candidate for president made that reality crystal clear.

Make no mistake: Progressivism has metastasized to the point where it is no longer tethered to common sense and common decency. Thus we have “safe-space revolutionaries” attempting to turn college campuses into speech-suppressing gulags where progressive orthodoxy must not be challenged. We have a Democrat Party totally embracing the rampant lawlessness associated with illegal aliens. And we have the insidious arrogance of a chief executive who insists that the Islamic State is “contained,” even as its increasing lethality becomes undeniable.

Attacking Obama or Clinton personally may be somewhat effective. Absent the larger ideological context, however, it is far too easy for progressives, with an ample assist from their media apparatchiks, to dismiss those attacks as bigoted, xenophobic, Islamophobic or a host of other epithets designed to end the conversation.

Republicans must illuminate the unmistakable nexus between unfettered immigration, open borders, sanctuary cities, the inability to call Islamic terror by its proper name, the desire to import improperly vetted “refugees” from terror hotspots, and the indoctrination occurring on college campuses. All of them are pieces of the same progressive jigsaw puzzle that must be put together so Americans can clearly see how determined the American Left is to fundamentally transform the nation.

In that context, it is no accident the Obama administration not only countenanced a two-year “surge” at our Southern border, but the deliberate dispersal of illegals throughout the entire country. Like the Syrians progressives would currently like to bring to America, they too were characterized as “refugees” fleeing crime and poverty in places like Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, despite the reality that crime and poverty have been endemic in those nations for decades. When those illegals gained entry, the CDC waived the disease-screening process required for legal immigrants, and the media dismissed as “coincidental” an outbreak of the EV-D68 virus that killed and crippled American children — an outbreak 300 times larger than the infection rate seen in the 33-year period from 1970 to 2003.

This time we’re being assured that Syrians — who will also be dispersed to 180 different communities — have endured a serious vetting process, despite statements to the contrary by FBI Director James Comey, FBI Assistant Director Michael Steinbach and USCIS Associate Director for the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate Matthew Emrich. Yet just like it was with the illegals, anyone who dissents from admitting people who can’t be checked is not only a bigot, etc., but lacks “compassion.”

Compassion? How about compassion for Americans and their legitimate concerns? And how about credibility? Do the words, “If you like your doctor, etc.” or “We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful Internet video” ring a bell?

Even more to the point, how about taking responsibility for one’s policies? Does anyone seriously believe progressives would countenance putting illegal aliens and refugees in camps while they were processed and vetted? They know 48% of illegals skip their deportation hearings, and they know that terrorists might be embedded with refugees, because more than 100,000 Somali refugees have been allowed to emigrate to this nation — and more of them have left to fight with al-Shabaab and Islamic State terrorists than any other ethnic group. Yet is there the slightest doubt progressives would characterize such effective control of both groups as “inhumane?”

Perhaps they might have an ounce of credibility if every “compassionate” politician willing to accept Syrian refugees would pledge to resign immediately if even one of those refugees engages in terrorist activity.

But they won’t, any more than the phalanx of progressive politicians and law enforcement officials who should be fired or impeached for supporting the 340 sanctuary cities that operate with their blessings in open defiance of federal immigration law. Sanctuary cities that, in less than a year, released 9,295 alien offenders Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was seeking to deport. That group included 62% with “significant prior criminal histories or other public safety concerns,” and 58% with prior felony charges or convictions. Moreover, 2,320 were rearrested for new crimes within nine months.

The Obama administration doubled down on that insanity. In 2013 and 2014 ICE released more than 66,000 criminal aliens, with convictions including 414 kidnappings, more than 11,000 rapes or other sexual assaults and 395 homicides.

Tellingly, the same progressives who refuse to label the Islamic State and other terrorist groups “Islamic” also get indignant when the term “illegal aliens” is used. So much so that leftist media organizations like ABC and the Associated Press have actually banned the term completely. This puts them in perfect alignment with their speech-suppressing allies on college campuses and the 40% of Millennials overall who would support censoring speech that offends minorities.

In short, progressives are determined to control the narrative, even if it means undermining Rule of Law, endangering the nation and gutting the Constitution. Thus it becomes incumbent on Republicans to fight back with a narrative of their own in a manner just as hard-balled as their “by any means necessary” adversaries.

In that light, here’s a few questions they should ask during the presidential campaign:

What is the acceptable number of terrorist attacks Democrats are willing to abide to maintain open borders, lax refugee policies and the bankrupt concept of multiculturalism that insists “all cultures are equally viable?” We know the nearly 3,000 people killed on 9/11 was insufficient, as was the Fort Hood massacre, the Boston Marathon bombing and the plethora of failed terrorist attacks thwarted by vigorous law enforcement and dumb luck. What is an acceptable casualty rate along with “collateral damage” that apparently must be greater than the destruction of the World Trade Center?

How many murderers, rapists, pedophiles, aggravated assaulters, arsonists, etc. will progressives abide to maintain sanctuary cities? We know the aforementioned 11,000 rapes or other sexual assaults, 395 homicides and 2,320 re-arrests is an insufficient level of mayhem inflicted on innocent Americans to change progressive minds. Can Democrats explain how their self-professed “compassion” is reconciled with additional body counts and ruined lives?

Can progressives inform us as to how many additional words or phrases, historical artifacts or figures, works of literature or anything else that offends their sensibilities will be censored, torn down, or simply removed from the national ethos to preserve political correctness? What additional elements of American tradition, culture and history will be filtered through a progressive “blame America” lens that emphasizes our inherently genocidal racist, sexist, classist culture? Is there a limit to these demands, or do you intend to continue deconstructing our national identity until it no longer exists?

America is seething with frustration and downright anger. But unless Republicans are willing to forcibly attack the progressive message along with its likely messenger Hillary Clinton, the race will be reduced to personalities. If that happens, expect the same corrupt media that characterized Clinton’s performance at the Benghazi hearing as a “victory” — despite new evidence of lies — to be the deciding factor.

A bankrupt ideology with adherents more willing to preserve multiculturalism and political correctness than the lives of their fellow Americans is perched at the edge of the abyss. Push it over, Republicans. The fate of the nation may very well depend on it.



A good idea from Canada

With a lot of Americans concerned about the possibilty that ISIS terrorists will exploit Syria's refugee crisis as a means of exporting terror to foreign shores, one nation may have found a common sense solution. As the Daily Caller reports:

Canada’s Syrian refugee plan will be limited to women, children and families from now on after increased security concerns about single males.

Citing anonymous sources, CBC News reports that the terror attacks in Paris Nov. 13 have led the government to rethink its policy. Canada is working toward getting 25,000 Syrian refugees admitted by the end of the year and is screening applicants at a rate of 100 per day to meet the quota. The announcement of the revisions are expected to take place Tuesday.

The government has been silent about what the security screening process looks like and whether it takes place at camps in Europe or in Canada.

There's no telling whether or not this will work, but it's the sort of common sense, security based approach that the Obama administration has roundly rejected in a way that suggests they don't take our enemies seriously.



Attempts to intimidate conservative voters and donors

The privacy of the ballot box is being undermined

Texas state campaign finance regulators are pursuing enforcement actions seeking the names of donors to conservative organizations. With other state regulators in Democrat-run states, these speech regulators are coordinating their responses to free speech litigation and state legislation limiting their regulatory powers.

Other states, including California, are also attempting to obtain the names of donors from conservative groups.

State speech and campaign finance regulators in blue states, and in states with regulatory boards such as Wisconsin with a decidedly left-leaning bias, have been participating in an internet discussion group to enhance state speech regulation.

The list server is run by the state of Vermont. The address: Campaign-Finance-Litigation-Defense@list.state.vt.us.  Emails obtained by PJ Media show extensive collaboration among bureaucrats in different states in their efforts to regulate political speech, particularly against conservatives.

Participation on the list has included government employees in at least the following states: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New York City, New York, Texas, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

There's a clear purpose here- voter intimidation. Up until Obama used the IRS to intimidate conservative groups, the most glaring example of state agencies using government power to quell activism was in the 1950s, when segregated Alabama demanded that the NAACP turn over its membership lists in exchange for operating in the state. The Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional then.

In that case, Justice John Marshall Harlan II noted that "Immunity from state scrutiny of petitioner's membership lists is here so related to the right of petitioner's members to pursue their lawful private interests privately and to associate freely with others in doing so as to come within the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment."

It was that privacy that allowed the organization to grow so strong, and doggedly pursue the civil rights reforms that helped bring about true equality under the law. Had the court ruled otherwise, those lists might have been used to intimidate and publicly shame those who privately supported the civil rights movement.

The IRS was successful in its attempt to limit conservative groups, but the public is now aware. With Hillary on the ballot, it seems that Democrats have found another way to stifle dissent.  It's good to see that conservatives are vigilant this time around.



Time Is Money—and Even More in Healthcare

Money is the most talked-about barrier to healthcare in the United States. But one of the least talked about—at least by its technical name—is often an even greater hindrance: rationing by waiting. In an important column in Forbes, Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman offers a primer on what everyone wants to know about rationing by waiting but is too afraid to ask.

A recent survey by Merritt Hawkins, the nation’s leading physician research and consulting firm, found that the waiting time to see a primary care doctor in the United States is almost three weeks—and more than two months in Boston. Waiting times are getting longer, too. The most important reason is government policy: For decades, the federal government has suppressed the price system, both directly, through administered pricing, and indirectly, through the third-party payer maze. “When you suppress prices, you elevate the importance of non-price barriers,” Goodman writes.

The consequences of price suppression—the scope of the non-price barriers to good healthcare—are felt throughout the healthcare system. “How long does it take you to make an appointment with a doctor? How many days or weeks must you wait before the visit takes place? How long does it take to get from your home or place of work to the doctor’s office and back again? How long do you have to wait once you get there? These are all non-price or non-market barriers to care,” Goodman continues. “And there is ample evidence that even for the poor these barriers are more important obstacles to care than the fee the doctor charges.”


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- this time including thoughts about race and sport.


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

More evidence that happiness is dispositional

Implying that unhappiness is too. And Leftists are the unhappy people. The world is all wrong according to them.  But they can't help feeling that.  They were born miserable.  So they cannot be reasoned with.  They can only be combatted and defeated

From meditating and reading self-help books to finding true love, people have long been searching for the root of happiness. Now, scientists have discovered exactly where in the brain it can be found.

People who scored higher on contentment surveys had a bigger precuneus - a part of the brain normally associated with consciousness.

Psychologists found a combination of joyful feelings and the satisfaction of life coming together, were experienced in this part of the brain. They said this is what constitutes the subjective experience of being 'happy'.

Until now, the mechanism behind how happiness emerges in the brain remained unclear. Understanding that mechanism, according to the researchers, will be a huge asset for quantifying levels of happiness objectively.

Dr Wataru Sato, a cognitive psychologist at Kyoto University, said: 'Over history, many eminent scholars like Aristotle have contemplated what happiness is. 'I'm very happy that we now know more about what it means to be happy.

The study scanned the brains of research participants with MRI.  They then completed a survey that asked how happy they are generally, how intensely they feel emotions, and how satisfied they are with their lives.

People feel emotions in different ways; for instance, some people feel happiness more intensely than others when they receive compliments, the study found.

Their analysis revealed that those who scored higher on the happiness surveys had more grey matter mass in the precuneus.  The precuneus is found in the superior parietal lobule at the top, back of the brain.

In other words, people whose brain is larger in this area feel happiness more intensely, feel sadness less intensely, and are more able to find meaning in life.



Despite Obama's Claims, We Are Not Able to Properly Screen Syrian Refugees

There is truly a war taking place throughout the world. Radical Islam is at war with Western civilization that is not currently part of its caliphate. Though the Obama administration is out to convince you that there’s no war, or that climate change is our country’s biggest threat, the bloodbath in Paris proves the contrary without doubt. Though we are not engaged in defending ourselves fully, the one-sided war goes on, allowing our enemy to get stronger and more radical.

America is now faced with a stinging reality, one that threatens the very heart of our national security. President Obama has instructed his administration to bring tens of thousands of Syrian refugees into our country without any real standard of document authentication or actual database of information that would allow us to effectively vet these people.

We have been told repeatedly by this administration that these refugees entering the United States have been vetted, and that we are simply providing aid to the vetted moderate Muslim Syrian refugees. However, FBI Director Comey revealed a different story in a House Judiciary Committee Hearing recently.

When pressed about a fingerprint database, he stated that it will be "challenging" to vet those Syrian refugees who have "never crossed our radar screen."

Think about that: no data, and no way to authenticate people or documents through a Syrian government the Obama administration has been trying to overthrow.

With the slaughtering of innocent lives at the hands of Islamic radical terrorists worldwide, we should be extremely alarmed at the thought of tens of thousands of improperly vetted refugees entering America.

It is the federal government’s job to ensure our safety and to address our vulnerabilities to danger, including our sanctuary cities. While these "safe havens" are designed to make people illegally here feel secure, they are also harboring violent cartels and providing cover for dangerous terrorists, and ISIS intends to take advantage of the sanctuary. This week, they threatened to spill American blood in a sanctuary city called Washington, D.C. There’s surely nothing more unpleasant than having someone make you feel like an unwanted refugee while you are cutting someone’s head off.

In sanctuary cities, various groups actually instruct Muslim immigrants not to talk to law enforcement. In fact, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial, plastered a poster on its website which stated "Don’t Talk to the FBI," and urged Muslims to "Build a Wall of Resistance" between them and the authorities.

Of course, CAIR’s input is always welcome at the White House.

The UN Refugee Agency’s own data from January through September of 2015 said 72% of the refugees from the Mediterranean countries were men. Yet the UN data also indicates that of all the other 43 million refugees in the world, about 91% are women and children.

ISIS has stated plainly that they would embed jihadi warriors into those refugees. News reports say two of the bombers in Paris were Syrian refugees.

Despite what President Obama stated mere hours before the Paris terrorist attack, ISIS is not "contained." Anyone with a TV witnessed this fact last Friday night. He also is adamant that the terrorists are not Islamic.

However, a renowned Islamic scholar and expert, who reportedly has a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in Islamic studies from the Islamic University of Baghdad, believes and has stated that ISIS is indeed Islamic. That expert’s name is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, otherwise known as the leader of ISIS.

You choose who to believe: the world-renowned, Islamic-degreed expert, or our politician-in-chief.

In this war being waged against Western civilization by Islamic jihad, it is imperative that we realize we are in a war, and that it is not a criminal justice matter. In war, you don’t simply "bring people to justice" as the president keeps vowing without doing; you destroy the enemy and his will.

President Obama tried to assuage us during his Turkish press conference regarding his strategies that work by saying “we will double down on those.” We were taught in elementary math that anything times zero is still zero. It won’t matter if this president doubles or quadruples his non-existent strategy. ISIS will not be defeated by this president’s half-hearted criminal justice effort against this ruthless enemy, as it takes territories and heads.

Until President Obama and his echo-chamber sycophants are willing to name our enemy, now in all 50 states, the loser will be us. And with no honest strategy to defeat these jihadis, this administration simply cannot be trusted to properly vet these refugees. Another large-scale terrorist tragedy will be the inevitable result, whether sooner or later.

It is time to stop ridiculing those of us who have been sounding the alarm about radical Islam, and instead to work together to stop them and their terrorist atrocities. Providing a safe haven for refugees in their own home regions should be a priority. The fact that the vast majority of the refugees are men and are so anxious to come to Western civilization raises a question: have these fighting-age men fled their homes, leaving women and children to fight ISIS alone, or is there an ulterior motive for their coming?



Hillary is totally divorced from reality

Yesterday, while Paris was just cleaning up its second Muslim terrorist attack and just hours before Muslim terrorists stormed a hotel in Mali, releasing hostages who would recite Koranic verses, a Democratic frontrunner for President had this to say:

"Let’s be clear: Islam is not our adversary. Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism."

That candidate? Hillary Clinton, stepping down from her throne to tell all of us to remind all us right-wing simpletons that Islam is a religion of peace. You see, ivory tower, limousine liberals like Clinton think that ordinary Americans take every terrorist attack as an opportunity to string up the nearest Muslim. They think we can't differentiate, and so they offer hyperbolic pap like this as a means of overcompensating.

It is obvious to anyone that not all Muslims are terrorist, but it is just as obvious that Islam has a pretty big terrorist problem, in that those who kill innocent civilians in its name are carrying out an active Holy War. Any American with two eyes can see this, but it challenges Hillary's nutty worldview. It's a world view that's all well and good if you're the typical 70 something grandmother with that says cute old fashioned things and forgets things sometimes, but it's incredibly problematic if you want to run the country.



Maine Doubles Down on Welfare Reform Despite Media Backlash

Mary Mayhew, commissioner of Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services, knows her politics aren’t always popular.

“I can’t stress enough what an attack campaign it has been from the media for four and a half years,” Mayhew said Thursday at an anti-poverty forum in Washington, D.C., hosted by The Heritage Foundation.

Then there are the more personalized critiques: “There is a poet, or he calls himself a poet, and he sends me poems all the time,” she added. “They are not nice poems.”

Mayhew claims that detractors—who mostly take issue with welfare reforms enacted by Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, since his election in 2011—have gone so far as to call her “Commissioner Evil,” and her and LePage’s policies a “War on the Poor.”

The irony, according to Mayhew, lies in the fact that her and LePage’s efforts actually aim to empower Maine’s poorest citizens. She says a third of the state is on welfare.

“The welfare hurricane doesn’t just destroy one family; it destroys generations of them,” Tarren Bragdon, president and CEO of the Foundation for Government Accountability, said at the event Thursday. “This work is about giving children a better chance for a future.”

To illustrate that point, Mayhew told a story of one of her first days on the job as DHHS commissioner, spent touring a substance abuse treatment facility for adolescents:

I was taken aback by one of the youth who came up to me—it was actually several youth, who were just completely focused on whether I could help them get disability. These were 15-year-old, 16-year-old young men clearly battling addiction, but they had decided that the answer for them was to pursue disability. And, frankly, as we all look at that pathway, that truly is committing individuals to a lifetime of poverty.

Since LePage assumed the governorship, Maine has reduced enrollment in the state’s food stamp program by over 58,000; currently, according to Mayhew, there are 197,000 people on food stamps, down from a high of 255,663 in February 2012.

Mayhew says the decline is due to eliminating the waiver of the work requirement previously attached to food stamps, as also witnessed in Kansas. Under the new legislation, recipients would need to work 20 hours per week, volunteer for about an hour a day, or attend a class to receive food stamps past three months.

LePage and Mayhew have also rolled back Medicaid eligibility through a series of battles Mayhew called “fierce.”

With a population of roughly 1.3 million, Maine had 357,000 individuals receiving Medicaid benefits when LePage took office. Today, 287,000 people are on Medicaid, according to Mayhew.

“What we have done truly has taken the arguments to the public to underscore what has been lost as that program grew out of control, never mind that the resources that had to be devoted to Medicaid were being taken away from education, infrastructure, and reduced tax burden on the state of Maine,” Mayhew said.

In August, Maine DHHS announced they planned to redirect $3.24 million in welfare savings to fund home care services for elderly citizens as well as the Meals on Wheels program.

Lastly, Mayhew touched upon Maine’s efforts to retool the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card programs, stating that Maine had over 15,000 open TANF cases when LePage took office. That number is down to less than 5,000.

LePage’s and Mayhew’s policies, as Mayhew herself highlighted, have not been without controversy.

Earlier this week, amid an ongoing dispute over EBT cards being used to wire money abroad, critics accused the LePage administration of using last Friday’s terror attacks in Paris to justify reforms.

“This proposal is really an example of fear-mongering at its worst,” Robyn Merrill, executive director of Maine Equal Justice Partners, told MPBN News.

But Mayhew does not plan to back down—especially if it means reducing her own influence long-term, and shifting that responsibility to local non-profits.

“I can’t underscore enough that part of the issue is government is too big, my agency is too large, and people are trying to preserve their jobs,” she said.

“We have got to reduce the size and scope of these agencies if we are going to have communities really take on the responsibility of supporting these families and these individuals on those pathways [to independence].”



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)